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Scientists are creating stronger coral reefs in record time – by “gardening” underwater

The Ocean-Shot Project, led by climate scientist Dr. Deborah Brosnan, is launching a novel initiative to restore coral reefs in the Caribbean country of Antigua and Barbuda. While many initiatives prioritize saving the corals, Ocean-Shot tacks on the additional focus of developing the base for those corals to grow and thrive. The team creates reef structures in a lab and then plants them in the ocean, a process that Brosnan likened to “gardening.” The team is also planting “resilient corals” among the structures that have already survived several bleaching events. Nearly six months ago, the first set of structures, called modules, were deployed into the ocean around Antigua and Barbuda. And it’s already seeing significant success. Coral reefs are essential to protecting coastlines from erosion, and when reefs are close to the ocean surface, they can break up about 95% of incoming wave energy. Coral reefs are also a crucial source of food and income for more than half a billion people across the world, according to NOAA, with the net economic value of reefs estimated to be “tens of billions of U.S. dollars per year.”

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